Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mac mileage

So McDonalds are going to use waste cooking oil to power their vehicle fleet. This is a company we all seem to love to hate, and at first sight we could be critical and point out that biofuels are certainly not carbon neutral and that growing crops for biofuel is already having an effect on the price of wheat. Nevertheless, McDonalds deserve congratulation for this initiative because they are using waste cooking oil to create the fuel; oil that would otherwise have to be disposed of carefully to avoid creating pollution.

A plant already exists in Scotland which creates biodiesel from organic waste. It’s pure recycling. It’s getting a useful product from material which otherwise would be dumped.

In the north east of England two major plants are under construction for the production of biofuel. These will use specially grown – and imported – raw materials and there is already much doubt and debate about the effects that growing these crops will have on rainforest clearance and on food production in poorer countries. I also wonder how long the producer countries will be prepared to export the raw materials. If they harvest and process the biodiesel at home, they have a much higher value product to sell, and surely it makes more sense to export finished goods than vast quantities of bulky primary goods.

Biofuel from waste is truly green – so three cheers for Ronald McDonald!

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